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Researchers gather at Penn State University where work is underway on the National Experimental Turbine (NExT) initiative.
The project team developing the National Experimental Turbine (NExT), an initiative advanced with NETL support and oversight, has surpassed several key milestones as it builds a first-of-its-kind testing platform for manufacturing a new generation of higher-efficiency gas turbines. Gas turbines play an important role in U.S. energy security and represent a critical technology for energy conversion, with broad uses for combined cycle power plants, aircraft propulsion, and backup power generation for renewable energy plants and hospitals. Technological strides in turbine development can have wide-reaching economic and environmental benefits. According to data presented at the 2019 American Society of Mechanical Engineers TurboExpo, a one-point U.S turbine efficiency improvement, in terms of carbon reduction, is equivalent to eliminating the emissions from 2 million cars.
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced $4 million in funding to advance the development of ceramic-based materials to improve the efficiency of hydrogen-fueled turbines that may one day be used in clean power plants. Electricity made from clean hydrogen—whether produced from renewable resources or from fossil or carbon-based waste resources, coupled with pre-combustion carbon capture and durable storage—will help in achieving the Biden-Harris Administration's goal of a zero-carbon U.S. power sector by 2035.
Richard Dennis, whose professional accomplishments at NETL span 35 years, is serving as a key organizer and technical review co-chair for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Advanced Manufacturing & Repair for Gas Turbines Symposium, a virtual event to be held event Oct. 5-8, 2021.
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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected 12 projects to receive approximately $16.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared cooperative agreements to help recalibrate the nation’s vast fossil-fuel and power infrastructure for decarbonized energy and commodity production. The selected projects will develop technologies for the production, transport, storage and utilization of fossil-based hydrogen, with progress toward net-zero carbon emissions.   
The Dynamic Gas Turbine Combustion Test Rig in NETL's High-Pressure Combustion Facility
NETL representatives joined gas turbine researchers and industry experts at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Turbo Expo, held June 7-11, to discuss the role of advanced turbine technologies in achieving  energy production with net-zero emissions and the changing workforce dynamics brought about by the economic focus of addressing climate change amongst other turbine and energy related topics. ASME’s Turbo Expo provided a full spectrum of research and industry knowledge to truly confirm the latest market trends, technical developments, challenges, and the future state of the turbomachinery industry. The event encompassed topics spanning the entire turbomachinery industry – gas turbines, steam turbines, wind turbines, fans and blowers, Rankine cycle, and power cycles based on supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2).
NETL presents the latest edition of its publication that showcases research on emerging energy technologies. NETL Edge shares the latest developments the Lab’s mission to drive innovation and deliver solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. In this issue, we feature key research and technology development in integrated energy systems for net-zero carbon electricity. Check out the newly released edition of NETL Edge to learn more about combining technology and versatility to optimize energy production and lower emissions, finding answers to carbon storage in by using advanced technologies to examine rock cores, building a strong foundation for integrated energy systems through energy conversion research and more.
With support from partners in academia, NETL researchers have taken steps toward realizing the potential of rotating detonation combustion technology, which can offer a number of advantages over conventional internal combustion. Internal combustion engines such as gas turbines are effective, but they suffer pressure and power output limitations. Rotating detonating engines create controlled, continuous detonation waves that rotate inside a modified gas turbine combustion chamber. This allows the engines to be able to avoid pressure losses and the subsequent decreases in efficiency that occur with conventional gas turbine engines. The rotating detonation process enables more of a fuel’s energy to be captured and utilized, resulting in higher power output, less fuel consumption, a smaller industrial footprint and reduced environmental impact. 
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has announced $6.4 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) FE-FOA 0002397, University Turbines Systems Research (UTSR) — Focus on Hydrogen Fuels. The UTSR Program conducts cutting-edge research to increase the efficiency and performance of gas turbines while lowering emissions. There is renewed interest in the use of hydrogen, a clean-burning fuel, for turbine-based electricity generation. Hydrogen production from fossil fuels, coupled with carbon capture, utilization, and storage, can generate low-cost hydrogen with net-negative carbon emissions. Waste plastics could be added to the fuel mix to produce large quantities of hydrogen and to mitigate the impact of plastics in the environment.
Image courtesy of Gas Technology Institute
Photo Caption: Image courtesy of Gas Technology Institute. The new STEP facility, supported by NETL, will house a desk-sized sCO2 turbine that could power 10,000 homes. Key recommendations to guide the operation of a first-of-its-kind testing facility to develop next-generation power plants have been issued by NETL researchers. If successful, testing at this facility will provide a pathway to lower the cost of electricity, shrink the environmental and physical footprint of power generation systems and conserve water.
Combustion Laboratory
Researchers in NETL’s Fundamental Combustion Laboratory (FCL) have developed advanced diagnostic techniques that are providing accurate, real-world data to validate models of next-generation fossil fuel and combustible renewable (i.e., hydrogen) technologies like direct power extraction (DPE) systems and rotating detonation engines (RDE). As the models become more refined, these technologies can be efficiently designed and deployed to realize significant performance benefits, which will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide more affordable and reliable energy for the nation. “The diagnostic techniques we’ve developed are unique in that they are very application-specific,” Clint Bedick, Ph.D., who works in the FCL, said. “Whether it’s finding ways of measuring the intense heat and electrical conductivity of an oxy-combustion flame or recording an RDE shock wave that lasts only milliseconds, we tailor our approach for the specific environments in which we’ll be measuring.”